The technology world has changed, and business has adapted well to embrace the cloud. The question has changed from “are you planning to move into the cloud?”, to “when?”
There are many benefits of a successful migration including minimal business disruption, sticking to agreed budgets and ongoing costs, but one of the most valuable is the confidence factor. Confidence within the business surrounding cloud is a must when starting your journey, this enables key stakeholders to actively support new technologies that will ultimately assist in digital transformation being embraced.
To ensure a successful migration it is paramount to understand why others have failed and what you can do as to not make the same mistakes. Stupid is as stupid does!
Failure 1: Inadequate Network Infrastructure
Your network infrastructure will be one of the main failures if not addressed early on in the planning phase and will need careful design and testing if you’re going to be successful in completing your migration to the cloud with minimal disruption to the business. Whether your strategic goal incorporates SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS architecture, the role of your network and how it functions will change when incorporating the benefits of cloud into your technology ecosystem.
Let’s talk pipes to begin with, as this will be something which will need to be determined as an integral part of the planning phase. How you connect to the cloud, the bandwidth, latency, upload, download and continuity points will all need to be thought about before proceeding with the deployment and migration phase.
Microsoft Azure provides several types of cloud connectivity services. While you can connect to all the services over the public Internet, you can also connect to some of the services using a virtual private network (VPN) tunnel either via the Internet or a direct dedicated private connection to Microsoft (Express Route).
With the Azure Express Route there can be a lead time of up to 90 days for this and in some cases, there will be a requirement to switch ISP’s to deliver this service. Understanding the most suitable option for your business starts with deploying network monitoring and assessment tools. Once you have gathered the statistics it will be clear which route you require.
Finally, ensuring your internal WAN meets your organisation’s needs. If no testing on the connectivity is carried out and users continue to use a central gateway to access the Internet post-migration, this can cause unnecessary noise from users and key stakeholders alike. The way users access data and the associated services needs to be mapped out and where possible, create a POC test environment. This enables test users to be assigned to a pilot group to include UAT, assisting in delivering an enhanced experience and capturing any required data and feedback.
Failure 2: Planning for Downtime During Your Cloud Migration
Next to the people, technology is now the lifeblood of any organisation and having unplanned downtime can spell disaster to businesses of any size.
Downtime potentially has even further reaching consequences; an unexpected ripple effect. In business, reputation is everything. It enables you to hire the best employees for your team, establish long standing customer relationships and encourage investment in your offering.
If your business suffers an outage and your customers feel the effects of downtime, it’s unlikely that your brand will escape totally unscathed. Those long-standing relationships might also suffer, alongside any new business prospects. Who knows? Years later, you could still be feeling the effects.
Without adequate backup, every application and service could be affected during a cloud migration. With this in mind, it’s imperative your business sets up a backup environment where the applications can run until the migration is complete.
Deciding on which applications and services will be determined by the RTO and RPO of the services and applications. Those that are marked as critical will follow a different plan to perhaps medium and low. Each and every business is different but it’s important that during the initial assessment and discovery phase of the migration these are highlighted in advance, so the downtime can be planned.
Involving stakeholders when migrating to the cloud is a must for most businesses as it requires broad organisational change and support. Get in touch with key people throughout the organisation, this should include representation from both IT and the business. Getting everyone’s engagement and support before you migrate will lead to a smoother, faster cloud migration that meets everyone’s goals.
At the end of the day, some downtime will be unavoidable. Best-practices dictate that you communicate to all users the planned downtime, giving as much notice as possible. The use of a communication plan can allow for feedback whilst gaining the support of other colleagues and peers throughout the business.
Failure 3: Trying to Migrate Too Much, Too Soon without a clear Migration Programme
Sometime enthusiasm can be a great thing especially when learning about the benefits of the public cloud, it’s easy to get carried away and want to migrate and start using the cloud ASAP. But following a strict migration formula and process will allow for the champagne to be flowing with minimal business impact.
A common mistake can be moving critical systems and applications without testing ones that present less of an impact first. Ultimately affecting the confidence and reputational impact on the business. Below is a high level process which is followed to achieve as successful migration. Whilst there may be small tweaks made to this process this is a typical migration programme which has been key to us delivering successful migrations to our customers.
Create a cloud migration plan, by establishing your cloud migration priorities and objectives before you start planning, you can ensure a more successful migration. Cloud migration tools will also provide insights into your environment and dependencies to build out your cloud migration project plans.
Once you have migrated a component of your ecosystem, you can begin moving more mission-critical systems, just remember to always start by migrating the least-critical aspects of your systems.
Finally, it’s important to remember that not every system belongs in the cloud. If you have a stable process that won’t see any cost or competitive benefits from a cloud migration, they can probably stay on-premises, at least until the end of the migration.
Throughout this thought provoking and informative article, we covered the importance of adapting your network infrastructure when planning to release the benefits of the cloud, making sure you plan the migration in key phases and that you communicate and plan for any downtime with key stakeholders.
If you’re still looking to gain further insight about any aspects of Azure cloud migrations or if you want to speak to one of our cloud experts just contact us. At the end of the day we love talking all things cloud! It’s what we do.